It's ok to watch the same clip over and over

I’ve seen a lot of parents express concern about their kid watching the same clips over and over on YouTube, or watching shows they’ve seen before over and over, or similar.

I think that a lot of people are under the impression that watching the same videos repeatedly is an inherently meaningless activity. It’s not.

Here are some purposes repeated video watching can serve:

Getting oriented:

  • Sometimes the world is very confusing
  • Going back to something familiar can make the world less confusing
  • It can also remind you of feelings that it is possible to have and ways that it is possible to express them
  • For some people, all of this is really important

Focusing or averting overload:

  • Noise can be really overloading or distracting for some people
  • So can silence
  • So can new things
  • Having a familiar video on can be a really effective way for some people to avert overload and/or stay focused
  • This is meaningful and important. It’s important to be able to be comfortable and think clearly.

Noticing new things

  • The video is the same every time, but the person watching it isn’t
  • When you watch it over and over, you see new things
  • It can be conceptual things like coming to interpret the story in a new way
  • Or sensory things like noticing sounds and colors that you never noticed before
  • This kind of repetition and examination is meaningful, and can be a great joy

Receptive and expressive language:

  • People who communicate by repeating words and phrases can get more words and phrases, and more meaning out of the phrases they have, by watching the same video over and over
  • Watching the same video over and over can also be really good for receptive language
  • It can be practice listening to things
  • The meaning stays the same, and watching it over and over can be a way, over time, come to understand the words in it better
  • This is also true of body language - in a video, you can watch the body language over and over and come to understand it
  • There’s also far less pressure to already understand. In interactions with people, you upset them if you don’t get it. Videos don’t need you to understand them – you can try as many times as you need to and take as much time as you need without anything bad happening.

tl;dr It’s not cause for concern if a kid watches the same videos over and over. Adults do it too, and it serves a purpose. Watching the same things over and over can be valuable and important.